Camen Design

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Kroc Camen Writes: #3

This is one of a series of personal letters written to / from Tanner Helland during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and web-design have changed just as radically.

These letters have been republished to give deep insight into the way I tick, and to show a lot of background work that lead up to the concepts and skills needed to produce this website, which ultimately I failed to do so back then.

About the Letter

This is a rushed reply that runs through (at break-neck speed) various projects and shows the very first mockup of Camen Design. I address some points Tanner made in his second and third letters, but I am extremely fickle and ignorant in my writing, brushing aside matters with the attitude of a wanton teenager.

Over confident, over cocky and full of myself, as usual—though one must interpret this also as genuine excitement at progress and learning new things. I get very enthusiastic over what I create because I wish to share the same enthusiasm I get out of learning with others.

Kroc Camen Writes

Well one good word to sum up events so far is “rollercoaster” (or is that two words? :\) let’s make a timeline so we both know where we stand—

  1. First Letter, started 19th April
  2. I receive your first letter dated (April 14th)—after sending mine!
  3. Long wait…
  4. I write my second letter (17th May) and send off soon after
  5. I receive your second letter on 2nd June
  6. I start writing my third letter on 2nd June, by which time you must’ve received my second letter, and could be writing a response at the same time I’m writing mine!?
  7. Addendum: Your third arrives 23rd June—now I can finish this letter!

Darn British Postal Service }:[—My first letter arrived just after you’d flown out for Canada, so it was sent packing your way—albeit with a two week delay. By which time I’d written my second letter (containing a copy of the first which I assumed you had not received) and sent it—so all in all we are totally confused about who’s writing who lol

Since the downward spiralling mood of my second letter, things have been on the up—in fact things have been quite great so far. Let’s recap:

Badly Drawn Adventure:

Progress has been incredible—the level editor can now output object files which are basically all the animation graphics and properties packaged into one file. Since I’m using a DC class to store bitmaps in memory I can’t just dump the class reference to file, like you could with a custom structure, so I must thank you for giving me the PhotoDemon¹ code—without it BDA wouldn’t exist! Your FastDrawing module contained code for getting an image into an array using API. Badly Drawn can’t work without this function because when saving / loading objects, each animation file is embedded into the object file. I just got each image stream with your code and outputted it into the file, thus an object file can contain multiple animations and be saved as just a single file!

But Hark, that’s not where I stop thanking you, because there’s more—thanks to the sample code you provided for TLA and specifically the bilinear re-sampling example, BDA also resizes the default image using your code and embeds the result into the object file to be used as the object icon in the side pane. I could’ve used StretchBlt, but that would only do a pixel-resize and resizing a thin stickman to 80×80 using a pixel-resize would result in a useless icon as you can imagine.

But Hark, that’s not all—I’ve also started work on the Badly Drawn Website and its coming along amazingly. Just look at the screenshot overleaf.

And I have to thank you again, for creating “Kroc’s Theme”, which I is dead proud of and have playing in the background of the about page :D

Badly Drawn Adventure would’ve stopped dead, a dream dashed, if I didn’t have the PhotoDemon code so I can’t thank you enough, you truly have made Badly Drawn Adventure possible for me! I’ll make sure you get royalties for the level editor when it’s complete—it wouldn’t be possible without your help!

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Screenshot of the about page on the “Badly Drawn Website”

But Hark! lol

I haven’t even started yet; the web-site also includes forums, forums with a difference. I felt it too difficult to try and skin a phpbb to fit the Badly Drawn style, so I created my own forums, better than ezBoard and phpbb, and in one day!

I’ve just gotta waste another page and tons of ink to show it to you, I’m so proud of it! It’s secure (not even I can hack it), it’s fast, it’s better than loads of other forums and best of all, it’s all in Badly Drawn style. The screen overleaf is early, a lot of data is missing, like “Who’s Online” and “Board Statistics” etc, but the data structure is there. Not all of it is skinned yet but the forum is fully working!

Plus with me creating the forum as I see fit I can get rid of hundreds of little niggles, like making the page links in reverse, and jumping down to the last post you read when the page loads (and highlighting the new posts in a thread since your last visit!) and making the whole thing generally perfect.

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Screenshot of the “Badly Drawn Forums”

That’s not all, not at all. Why there’s one more card up my sleeve and that’s my new website “camendesign.com”—a new personal site where I can store all my stuff and host everything I’ve done. It’s basically going to be a hub to everything I’m currently working on like HoTMeaL², Badly Drawn Adventure, etc. which will all be sub-sites off of the central site.

And of course, when we are dealing with personal representation and not some web-site for some other company—it’s 210% from me :D

Overleaf is the best yet, and I’ve only just started it! The design for CamenDesign.com, enjoy!

Very early—and spartan—design for camendesign.com
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It’s still early, very early in fact, but it gives an idea of how the site’s going to look. It’s super optimised also—the background for the header and footer is a total of 413 Bytes! The background curve is only 5.68 KB, thanks to the wonders of PNG!

And now I’ve highlighted what a nice week I’ve had so far, let’s digress and ask/answer some questions from your second letter.

  1. As for LC2, this I can’t really look up at the moment. I haven’t a Job (but I will have shortly) so I can’t afford the Internet other than dial-up, get mail and then disconnect. However I’ll search for this when I’m at work or when I get some money. I also have many books on 6510 Machine Code programming from my days on the Commodore64, but the BDA Scripting doesn’t adhere to all rules because at the end of the day it’s not going to be compiled right down to 1’s and 0’s and threaded through the CPU. It’s more like Java, where it gets compiled down to token byte values and then interpreted. So I can bend the rules a little since the code will have the ability to interface fully with VB if it wishes to.

    One example of where I’ve bent the rules a little is the Transfer commands. In 6510 there are only 4 of them, to keep instructions down and make the CPU cheaper to build. But because my MC won’t be flowing directly through a CPU but rather a virtual CPU Class in VB, there are areas where I can be different. In the BDA Scripting Language there are 6 transfer commands—I’ve added TYX and TXY. In normal 6510 these are not needed because you would just use TXA then TAY in that order to have the same effect. But when you think about the physical interface in Visual Basic, you see this:

    Public Sub s6502e_TXA()
    	s6502e_CPU.XRegister = s6502e_CPU.Accumulator
    End Sub
    
    Public Sub s6502e_TAY()
    	s6502e_CPU.Accumulator = s6502e_CPU.YRegister
    End Sub

    So in VB there’s nothing stopping you from doing; which would be twice as fast.

    Public Sub s6502e_TXY()
    	S6502e_CPU.XRegister = s6502e_CPU.YRegister
    End Sub

    Although BDA Script is machine code, one must always keep in mind that it’s not real machine code and that the full power of VB is there at your whim. So when it comes to design, it would not be wise to stick solidly to “conventions” and “rules” because this will only hinder you, and there is no need to make your own work harder by being strict about the language definition. This is perhaps something that Asuka should bear in mind. There’s ‘business’, then there’s ‘BUSINESS’ lol

  2. Evenescene Evanescence, nobody in Britain appears to of heard of this band, and because so much as pulling up a Google search window is stretching my Internet budget, finding such songs are out of my reach, especially MP3s which are far to large for my naffy modem. However once I’m earning some money I’ll go hunt them down. You’ve often told me about the music you like (i.e. in the TLA Bio), but I haven’t told you my favourites.

    I’ve got a lot of music, but I suppose I could say that I’m not ‘really’ into music, I don’t follow a particular band I don’t follow the charts, I despise all these manufactured tweenie pop-bands that spoil the music industry with their trash. It harkens from my days at school, back in the early nineties when all these teeny-bopper bands didn’t exist and the playground debates were all about real music; Blur vs Oasis. From Classic to Heavy Rock, I usually only like one song from each band, but I have several from the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Oasis and my favourite—Feeder.

6
  1. Right now I'm working on diagramming out a trilogy of books based on my original complete idea for the T4P SLL—I must have missed something, or misinterpreted your handwriting, I’ve never heard of ‘T4P SLL’. Can you explain what this is?

    Addendum: Ah ha!! After having read your third, I realised that capital G looks like a ‘4’ in your handwriting so you must’ve meant TGP SLC! Lol—what an idiot I am.

  2. Sounds a bit unfair that you can’t reply to e-mails sent to you, I mean, don’t I count as family? :P After all we have said many times that the team are like a second family! I assume you must mean your hotmail address, but there’s little point sending an e-mail when you can only reply by snail, and plus the e-mails I would send would be far too big to store in hotmail.

Third Letter:

Now I’ve covered the second letter, Kroc proceeds to the third

I’m hoping that my first two letters (one from the states, one from Canada) have made it there okay, but who knows.

Both, and the third have made it fine, albeit very delayed, I worry more about my letters reaching you since you seem to change address every week :P

Classical Music:

If you ever feel the need to crank out a song in a real loud fashion, please use Feeder’s ‘Under the Weather’—“Get out, shutup! Give me Neurofen-Plus. It hurts, feels like I’ve been hit by a bus”, lol. (nb: Neurofen-Plus is a pain-killer in the UK) Classical music’s not that bad—just avoid the Vivaldi stuff. Problem with classical is that most people have it playing on a pokey radio in the background of some stuffy library or workshop. To truly appreciate classical, you need a pair of those 80’s sty-lee Sony headphones, you know the ones with the huge padded ’phones and curly cable! Classical really needs to be played at stupidly loud volumes and in stereo, so I suggest to you to try listening to some Bach, Mozart or Tchaikovsky very loud with the big ’phones on. And if you whack on something real moody like Mars, it’s practically rock ‘n’ roll lol

Of all forms of music, I find that Classical is the most inspirational and emotional, but only when listened to as previously mentioned. My favourite anime ‘Love Hina’, has a fantastic score, including the most amazing pieces of classical music—I recommend the series to anybody just for the powerful bgm.

“Church Music” is a different story—it’s written by somebody with a deadline, without the real skills of the classical composers and they get paid a measly amount for their work – it shows in the music, avoid the stuff if possible. :P

Food:

Food don’t sound too bad, especially going to restaurants, I was expecting something like gruel, lol! You’re probably being fed better than me; I may be living at home, but rarely is the family all in at the same time. I practically live off of microwave meals and freeze-dried what-nots. Oh and living in England means it costs twice as much as it should :\

“Game Project”:

Me, you; we’ve the skills to do something big, but I feel that Badly Drawn will be the last project I will ever work on; by the time it is complete and a nice big “Up Yours” is dished out, Kroc’ll be leaving the scene. I’ll be 21 and the real world beckons—I need a house, a serious-wedge job and a girlfriend. At least I’ll be leaving cyberspace with a bang.

7

I would consider doing a real big project with you, but only if we could meet up and work on it, something like a film, a book or a game - anything totally k-a. 21 Months is plenty of time to think, and plenty of time for anything and everything to happen.

Ok, we’re on 7 pages now and there’s plenty to go—it might take you longer to read this than it takes to deliver :P

A section was removed here that doesn’t belong on the Internet (e.g. personally identifiable information).
The page above and below are short for that reason.

9

MSP5:

News on MSP5³, Vegeta101 was nice enough to send some comments to me for forwarding:

Defiance - Ultimate Boss Remix: (6.0)
Really Nice start (first 19 sec). But the rest has some parts that were just annoying to hear (for example the part between 1:18 and 1:29).

Deserve to be Loved: (7.5)
What you said, a really good song for a love scene.

Destiny (Tanya’s Theme) - Piano solo remix: (8.5)
Again I'm stunned, great song, it’s has parts I like better and it has lesser parts (compared to the other version that is). I was thinking maybe we could use that piano solo version before the orchestrated so you would get a intro for some climax moment/scene (with the orchestrated version).

Faith (Akita’s Theme) - Chase Remix (5.5)
Personally I don’t think it as good as the others.

Faith (Akita’s Theme) - Love Remix (8)
Very Good song, overall good.

Find You (Jason’s Theme) - Piano solo (7.5)
Very familiar tune somehow, dunno, I sure like it.

10

Gangsta Party (5.0)
It starts with a nice background sound till 4s, maybe should let that sound more ‘noticable’? in the rest of the it, instead of letting it being overruled by the rest of the instruments. I'm no music expert or anything but I notice that in catchy (maybe also much commercial) numbers they have a cool tune/sound and they let that go on for the rest of the song (sometimes with some slight variations).

Reign of Anarchy (4.5)
I'm not much of a organ sound fan. Guess that says enough.

Without You (Asuka’s Theme) - Piano solo (6)
good, not much comments from me on this one.

Just some short comments on each song. Altogether a very good music pack, despite the untweaked parts (I didn’t even notice they weren’t).

So go and enjoy canada :P

ComputerBitsUK.com:

Yup, after nearly a year in development, ComputerBitsUK Ltd’s web-site is now open for business—the realisation of “Just a dumb idea”. From Vacant Brains and NO knowledge of ASP programming what-so-ever, I’ve created a fully ASP driven shopping cart and database, learnt to use Swish to create the Flash intro and web-design section, have mastered Paint Shop Pro and have overcome much troubles—In short, one hell of a learning experience.

It’s only just opened so we’ll have to wait to see what happens, I’ll definitely have news for you on this when I send my next letter. Projects do get complete, despite the many, many trials in-between. This was supposed to have taken three or four months!

That’s a Wrap:

As long as this letter may be, to an end it must come. You’re going to have a Job ‘n’ a half replying to this lot lol I hope the weather’s well for you out there, England is actually somewhat sunny which is surprising. How you’re going to find time to write a novel I don’t know. Why not keep a log of daily events? Y’know, the people you meet the stuff you do etc.

Twenty-One Months, hardly anything by the time you’ve reached the end, that’s for sure. I spent two years at college, I still remember the day I started, as clear as—fwip, and it’s gone. The fastest two years of my life, but also my happiest. I would do anything to do it all again, that’s for sure. It may be hard, it may be a lot of work, and it may be unfair at times, but you get to the end and you feel you’ve really achieved something.

I was once told my work was great, I didn’t think so—what I thought was great, was that they saw my work for what it really was, I still hold out hope that one day it will be.

Kroc Camen